Running the Sahara

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Last night PIC and I went to a showing of the film Running the Sahara at the Starz film theatre. The documentary follows three runners as they run the entirety of the Sahara dessert without a single days break, 4,300 miles. It took them 111 days and while there is no way the movie could completely portray the journey, we sure got a good taste of it! It’s three dudes, so there is a fair amount of gruffness, and farting, but all in all I really fell in love with the characters…most of them.

There were a few parts of the film that really stuck out to me from a runners standpoint.

– I was pleasantly reminded that whether you run a marathon, or 177 of them in a row there is a process to a run. The early excitement and anticipation of your adventure, the wear-off of the honeymoon stage, the boredom stage, the irritable stage, and finally the quiet stage where you just can’t wait to be done, and you don’t think you’ll make it. Although the runners were out of gas and had lost substantial weight when they completed the journey, if there had been 500 more miles, I’m sure they would have made it. There is something about the finish of an epic journey that doesn’t seem to change. Mind games.

– The three runners had completely different personalities and that seemed to make a huge difference (in a good way). There was a slave driver, a noble knight, and a guy who just refused to let a smile leave his face. Each of these personalities were needed at various times, and it made me think about my own training partners in a different light. The guy who seemed to appreciate it all was Ray Zahab and I’ll talk a little more about him later.

– These guys were runners when they started, they were all pretty kick butt, but the journey is what trained them for the journey. Sometimes you just have to do the best you can with training, knowing full well that the adventure will bring something completely new.

So after the showing of the film, Ray Zahab was there to answer questions about the film. This was definitely my favorite part. Throughout the movie Ray seemed to be the most “real”. He loved on his wife when she was on the expedition, and he lived in the moment when he was running.

Hearing him speak was REALLY inspiring. I’m sure I won’t do him any justice, but I will try to highlight a few things that stood out to me.

– He spoke a little about his past. He had only been running 2 years before the expedition and used to smoke a pack a day, among other vices. He spoke about the fact that he was just a normal guy, he was “any” guy. He woke up and made a change, and anyone can, at any time.

– He spoke about the expedition and how very quickly it became something “bigger than himself”. He had a story to tell, and that story was about what he learned on his journey. This epiphany helped him to put aside the personal issues that happen on ANY expedition. It seemed to me at some instances in the film where he had a right to be VERY angry, he would run up with a smile, and kind words. I understood that this was because he was running for something more than himself.

– Someone asked how he moves past that mental barrier of pain, discomfort, etc. He talked about the first 100 miler he did and how half way through he wanted to quit. He talked about the dialogue he had with himself to just “not quit”. When he got to the end (and had won) he said he felt better than he ever had in his life. I was realizing afterwards that what he was talking about wasn’t so much “physically” better, but emotionally better for having “not quit”. He brought full it circle by reminding us that he is “every man” or “any man”, and that we all possess the ability to “not quit”.

Ray is pretty much a rock star and Running the Sahara changed his life. Last month he was part of an expedition of three men who broke the world record for an unsupported trek from the Hercules Inlet, to the Geographic South Pole (1,100km). Ray did it on snowshoes, being the first man to ever complete the route without skiis, and he did all that while answering questions for youth interactively every day (see here). Ray seems to be the kind of guy to use all of this to give back (it’s all bigger than him). He started impossible2possible as a program that integrates the youth into his adventures, and continues to raise money for H2OAfrica, OneXOne, Spread the Net, and Ryan’s Well.

Looking through all of Rays various sites it reminds me that there are still so many explorers on this planet. Despite the fact that you can use Google Earth from your living room to gaze on almost every foot of this planet, there seem to be so many people who are using the name of sport (running, rowing, cycling, skiing, trekking, mountaineering) to satisfy their own sense of adventure and exploration. I love it. It made me want more adventure in my life.

From All Sides

Happy to be healthy and training HARD.
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Well, the riding is on. In the last 7 days I have ridden Epic, Shadow, and Epic + Some. About 230 miles and lots and lots of climbing. Last year Steve and I rode Shadow many times in the early season. We did the rides as base training, low heart rate efforts. They were fun. We talked through them and generally had a fun little adventure with them. This year is different. I’m not going to “blame” it on the addition of PIC to our little group because something tells me that even without her Steve would be putting the hurt on. Do I blame the invention of the iPod? Well, maybe a little. This is how our rides go now: we warm up for the first 10 miles. Then the conversation stalls. Then one of us puts in our iPod. Then the other two follow suit. Then we proceed to demolish each other for the next 5 hours. Remember how I used to say these rides “cleaned out the pipes” “were refreshing”. Yea, well, I’m not using those phrases any more. They are replaced with “I turned my iPod up so loud that I couldn’t hear my panting”, “will my quads ever be the same”, oh and don’t forget “I’m never riding with Steve again”. Of course after we get done and PIC and I are laying on the front yard in pain, he asks if we can be there on Monday to ride again, and the idiot that I am says “Of course, wouldn’t miss it for the world”. PIC gives me the stink-eye.

I really love the addition of PIC to the group. When Steve is picking on her, he’s leaving me alone. When he’s pointing frantically to his rear wheel yelling at her to get on, I somehow just happen to be behind her. No problem of mine. Let him freak her out for a little bit. Yea, it’s been nice.

So the rides haven’t been the only thing this week. I seem to be getting punished in the pool as well. Remember in High School when your math teacher would give you a weeks worth of homework to get done in two days and then your history teacher would do the same. Remember how you wished that they talked to each other before unloading all this work? Yea, that’s how I feel. I show up to Masters and 5,300 yards later I DRAG myself onto the pool deck. But does coach Paul at Masters KNOW that I rode Shaddow the day before and finished my ride a measly 14 hours prior to the sufferfest in the pool. He does not. Do I tell him…nope. Would it matter if I did…nope.

Thus is the life of the Ironman triathlete. But you know what the really sick part about it is. I absolutely love it (in-between wanting to cry and shoving my face full of copious amounts of protein). I live for this stuff. I am happiest when I am tired, when I know that I am simply in-between two gnarly workouts. Injuries suck, being rested is boring, this is what life is made of. When you find out a little more about yourself every day, that’s when you know you are living it up.

I don’t take being healthy for granted. I’m an lucky to be able to suffer.
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I train for this little buggar. She knows all about it, and she’s going to grow up knowing she can do anything, or be anyone she wants with a bit of hard work.
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Rev3 is on TAP

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I am really excited! I have been talking to my friends about this great new race on the scene, Rev3 Triathlon. You have probably seen the ads in Triathlon and there is a buzz about it going around. I REALLY wanted to race it this year (inaugural year) but it was a week before Kansas 70.3 (the first race I signed up for) and Rev3 is a long course as well. Back to back long courses… several months ago Steve-O discouraged the notion.

I had a nice talk with Steve last night and told him I really wanted to do the race, even if it meant Kansas was out. We discussed it and he gave me his “coaches recommendation”. So… I’m going to go! I will wait until after Rev3 to make a call on Kansas. We will let me recover the week in-between and see how it goes. Kansas is going to be a hoot because Troy and I scored a camping spot at the race site. So it will be a drive/camp/race sort of deal, which will be mucho Wieck family fun!

So. Rev3! I really want to go this year so that I can have a solid leg to stand on while trying to convince ALL my teammates to participate next year. This race is the ULTIMATE in family friendly. It’s held at an amusement park in Middlebury, Connecticut that remains open for the spectators (I can’t believe I just spelled Connecticut right on the first try). Trakkers will be in full force at the race, so the spectators can keep a virtual eye on their athletes while jumping on rides.

If you have been thinking about a fun June 1/2 with lots of great competition, I would seriously look into this race!

The Good Times

Somedays are just easy. Today was one of those. Good Friends:

Michael (PIC’s husband): going for a steady 10 today.

Tyler: did my workout with me, tempo efforts and all

Troy (AKA Stroller Man): did 10 pushing Annie the whole way

Good Trail: Highline Canal, a dusting of snow from last night, full sun, gorgeous

Good Work: tempo efforts were solid and descending. Tyler was the time keeper, thus requiring him to run with me despite my brief desire to run 5:50 pace 🙂

Today was easy. It didn’t feel like Ironman training. Looking at the week ahead, this was apparently my rest day. 🙂

Bliss.

Tyler and Michael
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Stroller Man
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The Imp
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Stroller Man throwing the smack down on the last mile
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How Did I EVER Live Without One?

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I don’t even know how. As I you know am totally addicted to Mac. I’m not computer savy, okay, I am, but I’m not at the same time. I like to figure things out. Mac is perfect for me b/c they enable you to do a lot if you are curious. I love my iMac.

The best thing about mac is how seamless everything is. I love the MobileMe concept where my email, calendar, and address book are accessible on any computer. I love that.

I was kinda anti-iPhone. After all, we spent the last year getting out of debt and we did that by keeping what’s important to us (triathlon, adventure) and cutting down on everything else (used car, used clothing for everyone, low food budget, no shopping). Among the frugle community the iPhone is like the devil. It’s seen as the ultimate luxury.

Last year when my phone broke I begged my mom (who works at Palm) to scrounge me up a new one for free. With some help from her Palm friends I had a new phone. Well, last week the speaker in the phone quit working, so I had to take all my calls on speaker phone and stay in a quiet place (you all know I have a 3 year old, right?).

Yesterday I mentioned to Troy that maybe I could get an iPhone. We looked at the price (very reasonable) and the features (wow), and I went and bought one (totally easy process).

I DONT KNOW WHAT I WAS THINKING. I AM IN LOVE. I can’t even describe how cool these phones are. How can a phone do so much and be so much fun. It’s like an extension of my computer. I can even blog from it. Wow.

So, if you have an iPhone, I feel blessed to be in your little club, and if you don’t, you should check them out, especially if your email address ends with @mac.com

24 miles up City View

City View is a route we often ride. It encompasses doing Highgrade and then going a little farther. Today we ran up City View. It’s been such a hoot to run up all the places that we usually ride. Gives you a new perspective.

About to Leave, Troy is SAG today in Steve’s big green truck.
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Leaving the neighborhood
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Kim, Tony, Steve and I left from Steve’s at 8:45 this morning. We ran through Chatfield and over to Deer Creek and Wadsworth. There, waiting for us, was Michelle, Beth, John, and Tyler. As we refueled at our “rolling aid station” (AKA Troy driving Steve’s big truck with Annie in the passenger seat) they took off. We spent the next mile catching up to them.

Running through Chatfield, giddy and excited for the day
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The two groups
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Steve seemed on fire so instead of running with them for awhile, he cruised on by. It was one of those moments that I had to decide: “Are you feeling good, today? If so then go, if not then stay with the group and make it fun”. I went. I was feeling strong. Our rolling aid station was at mile 9 and although we didn’t plan to stop, Steve, Kim and Tony headed over to the truck. I gave out a few kisses and walked through. Steve caught up with me and we started running. Kim and Tony were still at the truck, and just like that, we split up. Steve and I started pushing it. We passed the group once again (who didn’t stop) and by then we both had our headphones in and were taking 1-2 minutes pulls leading.

Running with the group for a little.
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It’s always intense and fast when Steve and I run this way. He loves it, I dread it, but today it was ok. I felt stong, I felt good, so I went with it and I didn’t worry about it. I wasn’t in a super chatty mood today and so I was content to do the work, and play the game.

We hit the aid truck at 12 and spent maybe 15 seconds there. We were both anxious to not loose our steam so we booked it out of there. We continued to pull and the pace continued to pick up. It got a little past a comfortable place for me and I started to fall off the back of Steve. At one point he turned to me and I said “This is a bit faster than I’m comfortable with, go if you need to.” With a nod of the head he was off. Usually when we seperate it’s a little strange, but this went as perfect as it could have.

I tried to back off, but just a little bit so that I stayed strong and didn’t loose my momentum. I cranked up the tunes and just ran hard. I knew Kim and Tony would be anxious to catch Steve and I knew they probably didn’t run as hard from miles 9-12. Soon enough, on the Highgrade switchbacks they passed me at a solid clip. It really didn’t bother me one bit. It was nice to see them for a few seconds, but I was happy to go it alone today.

I started feeling some stomach distress and I knew it was the Perpetuem in my water bottles (it has protien in it) and going too fast. When you are going faster, carbs only is a good bet. When you are slow and keeping the heart rate low, you can take some protien in your drink. I’ve got to learn these lessons.

I knew when I got to Troy that I needed to switch to water with some Hammer Gel. I did that, and I’m happy to report that it worked. I felt good about diagnosing the issue before it got bad, and doing the right thing to change it.

Up up up highgrade I went. Reaching the school house was weird. I am so used to stopping here, but there was 4 more miles of hills up City View so after 15 seconds of stretching I pushed on. The downhill felt great and was the first of the day.

On City View
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The last miles were hilarious. I got a bit giddy and took to singing whatever was playing on my iPod at the top of my lungs. I was having a blast out there. The three hills of City View were fine. They are steep and you feel like a hard core chick running up them with 20 miles on your legs. It was great to see the truck at the finish, and nice to not have to run 24 miles back downhill to Highlands Ranch.

Nicole and I in the car afterwards
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Great Run. Everyone in the group did well today. Some went less than they hoped, others went more. It was nice to hear about everyone’s experiences of the day. Troy did a really fantastic job of SAG support. He had to manage taking care of runners of very different abilities. He missed Steve at the top by 10 minutes b/c Steve was so fast today. Troy has that quiet strong demeanor and I think most of the Practical Coaching folks feel that they are in good hands with his support. Thank you Troy (again and again and again).

Here is the video, please excuse my singing, but I could not bear to leave it out, because it made me laugh.

Date Night

Last night Debbie and Justin were nice enough to watch Annie while Troy and I had a little date night. We decided to head to DU together for an evening of swimming and then running; 30 minutes of each. Every time Troy and I swim together we have a total blast so I was really looking forward to it.

Once in the pool we proceeded to play games, giggle, laugh, race each other, etc. We did 25’s holding onto each others ankles, we played tag. It was a hootin’ good time.

We decided that a transition race was in order. After hopping out of the pool we ran to the locker room and tried to beat each other out. Troy almost ate it on the pool deck, but I had to contend with my sports bra. It was a close race (not really) but I took the crown. I may not swim faster than him, but I can beat him in transition.

Off to the treadmills we were still being silly. We had fun warming up, running some intervals, maxing out the treadmill speed, and filming each others gate. 30 minutes went by fast!

Last up was a pull up contest. Troy had a handicap of 4. Ha Ha. I was pretty sure I couldn’t even pull out a single one. I’ll let you see the video for the outcome.

What a great night. Just really super fun. Easiest workout all year, except my cheeks hurt from giggling. Thanks Boo, I love ya!

Core Concepts Sale

It just so happens that the same day I received my most recent Core Concepts order, they issued a fancy email with a 40% off sale on base layers. the coupon code for their online store is: BASE0209

I ordered the Firefly Long Sleeve in blue and it’s super cute.
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I have been drooling over the Full Tilt Zip Neck for some time, so I ordered myself up one in Plum. I love love love the off center zippered neck. It’s cute zipped up or down. The fit is really similar to the Cadence Hoodie.
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Lastly, I thought their Bamboo shirts were super adorable, so I grabbed the one with the fancy little bike on it.
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Interested in some Core layers for yourself? 40% off is pretty sweet, the online store is here, the coupon code is: BASE0209

Twitter and Feed Stuff

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Okay, this blogging business is not for the faint of heart. I have learned more in the last year than I ever wanted to know from blogging. I’m a math nerd, like a pure math nerd, not one of those applied types. This technical stuff is just confusing!

But! I think I figured out Twitter, as in found out how to put a little Twitter link box on my site, and figured out how to actually tweet. I now consider my life complete.

Wait, not quite yet. Feedburner, RSS, I can’t sleep, ahh! I figured that one out too. Several weeks ago I started using Google Reader to track all the blogs I read. People (okay, just my coach) wonder how I have the time to follow all these blogs, and the answer to that is Google Reader. You just add all the blogs you follow and then when the blogger posts a new entry, the Reader displays it. So instead of having to check back and back and back at a blog for a new post, it just shows up there when it happens. It’s like my personal newspaper. So, I wanted to make sure that everyone who is privy to this whole RSS thing could subscribe to my blog. I am happy to say I figured that one out too. As you can see there are little boxes to the right of my blog now.

So, go ahead peeps, subscribe to me now, or follow me on twitter. Because, as you can see, I’m not getting a lot of love right now 🙂

Also, if you are on Twitter, I am in desperate need of people to follow, so let me know your user name, or add me, and I’ll reciprocate.

Troy’s Lucky Day!

Today was a huge day for Troy! Being that I am the competitive/exercise/outdoor junkie he always gets the shaft when it comes to new gear. He’s the last to get new ski boots, the last to get new outdoor clothes, and he always wears shoes until his toes are sticking out before he replaces them. It doesn’t help that he hates spending money on himself, and that I am sorta the opposite :). He’s such a martyr!

Not today!

Tax Refund Baby! Going to get him new boots at Shoesfella.com!

Troy has wanted a custom jacket and pants from Beyond ever since they sponsored me. I am sort-of your average everyday sized girl, and Troy is odd in every way. At 6 foot 4 he has a standard sized torso, and extremely long legs. He’s skinny skinny. He wears medium shirts, but needs them extra long in length. Do they make those? No sir.

Beyond is the perfect company for Troy. Besides the fact that their garments have the best construction I have ever seen in outdoor gear, it’s custom. completely custom. At non-custom prices. Sweeeeet.

So today we measured Troy, all 20 measurements they wanted.
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And then we designed and built this:
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and this:
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The khaki color of the pants (not to be confused with kahiki…inside joke) will match the stripe on the sides of the jacket. He’s got custom pockets where he wants them. He added a waterproof zipper to the coat, and ski boot gaiters to the pants. This set up can take Troy from the slopes of Vail, to the ice falls in Ourey, to the peaks of Peru. It’s a versatile set up that he will get years and years (and knowing Troy…a few more years) out of it.

Congratulations baby on a year of hard work at Cigna, a year of shlepping around Annie gear to a million races, to becoming a much better skier, runner, and cyclist; for being a kind, humble, helpful guy, and for putting up with all my crap. I love you!